Linguistics and Cognitive Science Courses and Requirements


Cognitive Science

The goals of the cognitive science major are designed to give our majors the following skills:

  1. Gain critical knowledge of the theories, research questions, and methodologies used within the core subdisciplines of cognitive science.
  2. Clearly and effectively communicate in speech and in writing about scientific ideas.
  3. Develop critical thinking and analysis skills that allow students to conceptualize problems from multiple perspectives and prepare them for a range of possible careers.
  4. Formulate one’s own research questions and demonstrate mastery in the design, analysis and interpretation of cognitive science research.

Assessing the Goals

  • Goal 1 is assessed via the majority of major coursework. One example is the major’s distribution requirement, which requires students to take three courses in various departments to ensure a more thorough coverage of areas within cognitive science.
  • Goal 2 is assessed via the majority of major courses, where there are many assignments that require students to present, discuss, and write.
  • Goal 3 is assessed through various courses, including a design-your-own concentration, which allows students to focus their interests in cognitive science around a specific theme and take three courses to obtain expertise in the proposed theme.
  • Goal 4 is assessed via advanced courses, particularly a two-semester senior thesis which consists of a broad literature review followed by the completion of an empirical, original research project.


The Linguistics faculty at Pomona College have identified a number of educational objectives for linguistics majors. By the time of graduation, we intend that our students will:

  1. Have an understanding of how to approach the study of language scientifically; this is a key component in the LGCS 10 course (Introduction to Linguistics) and is reinforced in each of the required linguistics courses in the major. We take students’ performance in these courses as an indicator of their success in achieving this objective.
  2. Question assumptions about language; this is another key aspect of both LGCS 10 and the core courses in the major. We teach our students to think critically about what constitutes ‘knowledge of language’, and we evaluate their abilities in this domain via their performance in the courses mentioned above.
  3. Understand the difference between studying language as an internal object in the mind (i.e., our linguistic competence) vs. an external one (i.e., language use in society); this notion is introduced in LGCS 10 and reinforced to varying degrees in all courses in the major.
  4. Develop a sophisticated understanding of one subfield of linguistics; students focus on a particular subfield of interest in the advanced (‘Topics’) seminars, in Independent Study, and in preparing to write a senior seminar paper. Students are encouraged to take advanced courses in the junior year as preparation for the senior seminar paper.
  5. Be able to use linguistic data effectively to construct an argument; students are asked to do this in all courses in the major. This skill is developed via problem sets that are assigned as homework, and through the writing of a final paper in courses that require it. We assess students’ abilities in this area through their performance in the courses mentioned here as well as in the senior seminar papers.
  6. Conduct independent research of a theoretical and/or empirical nature. We expect advanced students to understand the linguistic theory in some subfield well enough to be able to make at least a minimal contribution to the literature, either in terms of developing or modifying a theory, or in carrying out a novel empirical study that tests predictions of a theory. Students develop this skill in our Methods courses and through writing a final paper in an advanced course; this skill is exercised and developed further in the writing of a senior seminar paper.